Norwegian legendary reeds player and free-improv pioneer Frode Gjerstad needs no introduction. On «Twenty Fingers» veteran Gjerstad, 73 years old, who plays here the alto sax and Bb clarinet, meets young pianist Isach Skeidsvoll, 25 years old, a newcomer to the Nordic free-improv scene. Skeidsvoll comes from the small village of Kleive in Molde, studied at the Grieg Academy in Bergen and founded the quartet General Post Office, a band that is described as uniting inspiration from blues to free jazz in a separate concept. Gjerstad’s long-time comrade, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love already enlisted to his new quartet Sun & Steel (with another of Gjerstad’s close collaborators, bassist Øyvind Storesund)
«Twenty Fingers» documents Gjerstad and Skeidsvoll first-ever musical meeting and was recorded at Spor 5 in Gjerstad’s hometown, Stavanger, in December 2020. The album offers a series of short edgy duets and one extended one. The atmosphere is intense and muscular, and it is clear that Skeidsvoll is intent on deferring, pushing and provoking Gjerstad, often by pounding rhythmic gestures with great power on the piano, and that Gjerstad enjoys this kind of urgent, fast-shifting and constant searching dynamics. But Gjestad and Skeidsvoll know also how to color these dynamics with the chamber, lyrical veins like on «Third hand, Fifth finger».
The 19-minute of «Fourth hand. Second finger» allows Gjestad and Skeidsvoll to develop a faster and more complex interplay that takes many surprising and dramatic detours. Gjerstad and Skeidsvoll burst with ideas, never settle on conventional, familiar dynamics, but occasionally explore melodic ideas, and always sound fresh and eager for new adventures. Sometimes, four hands, twenty fingers are more than enough for an inspired meeting.
Frode Gjerstad (as, cl), Isach Skeidsvoll (p)